War with motorists over driver’s licences

The Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) has revealed that, by its estimates, more than one million motorists will have expired driver’s licences come 1 April 2022.

Outa executive director Stefanie Fick warned the government that it “should not start a war with citizens that it cannot win” over the driver’s licence renewal deadline of 31 March 2022.

“Outa is considering a legal opinion that may lead to another civil disobedience campaign,” she cautioned.

Outa has called for transport minister Fikile Mbalula to extend the driver’s licence renewal deadline. Fick explained that failure to do so could lead to law enforcement extorting bribes from motorists.

“The state cannot simply ignore this problem, as it will leave motorists at the mercy of overzealous or corrupt law enforcement officers who may use this as an opportunity to extort bribes from the motoring public,” she said.

“These problems are largely due to difficulties in securing bookings through the online booking system forced onto motorists.”

MyBroadband contacted the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) regarding the issues many motorists are experiencing when attempting to make a booking.

“There are currently no issues with the booking system. The system is stable and bookings are being made,” an RTMC spokesperson said.

They did, however, say that specific licencing centres have extended operating hours to help combat the backlog.

Stefanie Fick
Outa executive director, Stefanie Fick

“RTMC licencing centres at Waterfall Midrand and Eco-Park in Centurion are operating from 07:00 to 21:00 Monday to Sunday to provide access to individuals to do renewals,” they said.

They added that centres under the provincial departments had also extended their operating hours.

Outa wants Mbalula to use a renewal deadline extension to engage with the organisation and other stakeholders to find a solution.

“We already met with Minister Mbalula earlier in March to suggest that the Department of Transport extends the validity period of licence cards from five to ten years,” Fick said.

“This is in line with many countries and will go a long way to alleviate the administrative pressures on both the state and the public in this regard.”

She added that the minister promised a follow-up meeting within two weeks, but Outa is still waiting for the minister’s response to its proposals.

Fick said that a potential solution — if the minister does not extend the deadline — would be to prevent law enforcement officers from issuing traffic fines for motorists whose cards have expired in the past year.

“Should the Minister not wish to extend the driver’s licence renewal deadline or the validity of driver’s licence cards, Outa proposes that law enforcement agencies be instructed to not issue fines for motorists whose driver’s licence cards have expired in the past 12 months, as this may lead to unlawful enforcement,” she said.

“The public’s inability to comply with the regulations is largely due to the department’s incompetence, and the public shouldn’t be punished for it.”

Now read: South Africa’s big driver’s licence renewal problem

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War with motorists over driver’s licences